Painting a better picture

I enjoyed the first read-through. I found good bits and pieces that I had forgotten about. I could see the occasional a-ha moments that happened as I wrote my way into the story. I saw again how random things I put down early in the story popped up again later. And after reading it through, I finally had a title I liked. It was really rough, but it only made me want to make it better.

And it needed a lot of work. There was rambling, repetition, and lots of typos. Though it is not a story where lots of things are happening (think Cast Away), it was in desperate need of fleshing out. I had pictured the scenes in my minds eye, but I had not brought that clarity to the page.

During the first round of editing, I primarily focused on bumping up the descriptive parts, painting a better picture of the world my character was passing through. Since this was not a plot driven book, I needed to be able to pull the reader into the world if it would have any chance of getting them to keep turning pages. I would work on polishing the story on the second pass-through.

This approach to editing is the reverse of most recommended methods. Why bother fleshing out the scenes in a story if you aren’t even sure if they are going to remain in the book. But for some reason this is what appealed to me. I needed to be pulled into the world as well, to find reasons to be there, to find details I previously missed.

And I found that I enjoyed editing.

I was surprised by a couple of things. Editing was as slow or slower than putting down the first draft. As hard as I struggled getting the story down on the page, I couldn’t imagine going any slower. But in a way editing was more difficult. I wasn’t pouring over every word, but the focus was definitely finer. Just as I was trying to notice more details in the imagined scenery, individual words and sentences clamored for attention.

But I found that I enjoyed the tweaking. It still felt like I was discovery writing even though I knew the story already. By taking a closer look at the scenery passing by, I found more inspiration, and so did the main character. The story still wasn’t worth showing to anyone else just yet, but it felt like I was headed in the right direction.

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